TIFTON, GA – Boston Tourism Committee members will use a 2014 Georgia Department of Transportation GATEway Grant to create an eye-catcher they hope will pull traffic off U.S. 84/state Route 38 and into the city’s historic downtown just a mile off the highway.
The Committee and the city of Valdosta are the only two southwest Georgia government entities among 43 in the state recently awarded GATEway grants. Valdosta officials plan to establish a definitive entrance to the city on U.S. 41/SR 7 by planting rows of trees and creating a landscaped bed of ornamental plants.
GATE is an acronym for Georgia Transportation Enhancement. GATEway Grants are funded through fees paid by outdoor advertising companies for the appraised value of trees removed in order to install signs. Any organization, local government, or state agency may apply for the grants, which reimburse costs up to $50,000 for plant materials and their installation at significant entrances on Georgia DOT’s right of way.
The 2014 awards statewide totaled more than $1,346,000. The Boston Tourism Committee was awarded $27,216 in its first GATEway Grant application. The beautification project planned for the corner of U.S. 84 and North Green Street wouldn’t be possible without grant money, Committee member Amanda Maxwell said.
Right now there is nothing on the corner except a wooden “welcome to Boston” sign, which will remain in place.
“We’re going to landscape on both sides of the road and make that more attractive coming into Boston. Right now people don’t even know there is a town off of 84. We’re hoping it’s going to draw interest and people will turn off 84 and come into downtown Boston,” Maxwell said.
The considerably larger city of Valdosta has its own identity issue on U.S. 41. Known locally as North Valdosta Road, it is a heavily-traveled thoroughfare into the city, especially from the Interstate 75 interchange at Exit 22. Yet there is nothing along the roadside to let travelers know they have entered the city limits.
“We used to have just a metal sign that told people they were entering the city. We don’t know where that went,” said Historic Preservation and Special Projects Planner Emily Foster.
The city will use its $19,490 grant to enhance an area between Hyta Mederer Drive and Country Club Road. The GATEway grant money will pay for magnolias, azaleas and other plant material. The city will pay for a structural welcome sign on the southbound shoulder of the road. Items such as signs, paving, benches, flagpoles and fountains can’t be funded with the grant.
“What we hope to accomplish is to create several more of these gateways into our community,” Foster said. City officials have identified a total of 10 locations. “This will start the rest of the project,” she said.
This first round of grants was funded after review by the Roadside Enhancement and Beautification Council, which is comprised of 12 members who are appointed by the governor. The Georgia DOT hopes to award additional grants soon.
Source: Georgia Department of Transportation